A small space rock jumped as it passed through Earth’s atmosphere last Tuesday (22). Most meteoroids – usually a fragment of a comet or asteroid that becomes a meteor – disintegrate as they pass through the planet’s atmosphere and hit the ground like a meteorite, but this celestial body managed to find another destination.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), this meteoroid was sighted above northern Germany and the Netherlands traveling at 34.1 km / s, reaching 91 km in altitude – much below any satellite in orbit – before “bouncing” back into space.
For a rock to be able to make this ricochet movement in the Earth’s atmosphere, it must enter at a very shallow angle. The movement is similar to that made when a stone jumps over a lake, briefly entering the water before bouncing.
The object was observed by the GMN network (acronym in English for the Global Meteor Network), a project that aims to cover the globe with meteor cameras and provide the public with real-time alerts.
ESA says that this type of meteoroid does not pass through Earth very often, but “only a handful of times a year, compared to the thousands of meteors we observed in the same period”.
On his Twitter, Denis Vida, who has a postdoctoral degree in physics at Western University in Ontario (Canada) and is the founder of GMN, said he traced the rock to an orbit of the Jupiter family. See the GIF in the publication below:
(1/2) An earthgrazer above N Germany and the Netherlands was observed by 8 #globalmeteornetwork cameras on Sept 22, 03:53:35 UTC. It entered the atmosphere at 34.1 km/s, reached the lowest altitude of ~91 km and bounced back into space!@westernuScience @IMOmeteors @amsmeteors pic.twitter.com/5EgRivdcsu
– Denis Vida (@meteordoc) September 22, 2020
“With a better understanding of these small bodies, we are able to build a more complete picture of the Solar System, including potentially dangerous asteroids, meteor showers that can endanger satellites, as well as the chemistry and origins of our own Solar System,” says the agency.